AFCON 2023: A solid Côte d'Ivoire reaches the final

AFCON 2023: A solid Côte d'Ivoire reaches the final

The final line-up for the 34th edition of the competition is now official. Côte d'Ivoire join Nigeria in the final, following their logical 1-0 victory over a DR Congo side on a bad day. The Elephants confirmed, in front of their home crowd at the Stade Olympique d'Ebimpé, their rise to prominence since the knockout phase, helped by the fact that the DRC had a non-existent game. This will be their first final since winning in 2015.

The Côte d'Ivoire-RD Congo match, unlike the superb Nigeria-South Africa match, didn't get off to a flying start. The teams took no risks in the game, and were perhaps a little inhibited by what was at stake. No doubt also because of the instructions. By the quarter-hour mark, there were simply no shots. Finally, in the 17th minute, Wilfried Singo crossed well from the right wing to Simon Adingra, who headed against the post. Gael Kakuta replied in the 19th minute with a 20-metre shot, which was blocked by Yahya Fofana.

In the 24th minute, after another vicious corner from Masuaku, Yahya Fofana had a hard time catching the ball in 2 stages. This was the second warning for the goalkeeper, who was particularly troubled by corners. That was pretty much all there was to get through the early stages of this tight game, in which the defenders were both successful, well grouped and vigilant, while the forwards were either uninspired or had little space. This was the case right up until the fresh break on the 30th minute. It's hard to say which team got into the game better. The 2 teams were level on all counts: 1 shot for Côte d'Ivoire, 53% possession; 2 shots, including 1 on target, for Congo, 47% possession.

The match finally got going in the last quarter of an hour, with Côte d'Ivoire finishing well.At the 32nd minute, Yahya Fofana, no doubt warming up his gloves, spread himself to box in a Congolese cross that seemed to have no takers. The only occasional scares came from corners, but the 2 goalkeepers were unstoppable.

Adingra, the most willing and lively Ivorian, attempted a cross in the 34th minute, but Kessié was unable to get his header on target. The ball came back to Haller, who tried a bicycle kick that went wide.At this point, Côte d'Ivoire began to build momentum. The first big chance of the match came in the 39th minute. Haller benefited from an ultra-precise cross from Singo, but missed his header when he was on his own. The Elephants confirmed that they were finishing the first half better than the DRC, who looked uninspired and perhaps lacking energy. To confirm this, in the 41st minute, Franck Kessié, following a 3-man play, sent a mine onto the Congolese post.

The 2 teams went into the break on level terms, with Côte d'Ivoire in the ascendancy at the end of the first half. Figures at half-time: 6 shots but 0 on target for the inaccurate Côte d'Ivoire, with 55% possession. The DRC had 3 shots, 2 on target and 45% possession.


Côte d'Ivoire in control, DRC unimaginative and harmless

Théo Bongonda came on at half-time and made his mark early in the second half (47th min). After a superb breakthrough, he eliminated 3 Ivorian players, but his shot from an off-center position unfortunately hit the outside of the net. Côte d'Ivoire immediately took control of the game. After a period of calm, Kessié (58th min), after a link-up with Gradel, sent another shot from 20 m, which was blocked by Congolese goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi.

Logically, Côte d'Ivoire were rewarded for their efforts in the 65th minute.From Gradel's cross at the 2nd post, Haller scored from a missed rebound. The ball rebounded out of his grasp and lobbed goalkeeper Mpasi. Maximum Haller success!In the 68th and 70th minutes, Haller twice came close to doubling the score. First, a header from a corner went narrowly wide. Then, after Kalulu had failed to deal with the ball, he tried to lob the ball over the Congolese goal.

No reaction from the DRC

The DRC's second attempt in the second half came from Meschak Elia in the 78th minute, which went just wide of the target. A poor performance from the unrecognizable Congolese!Côte d'Ivoire outclassed them in midfield, with Kessié the boss. Théo Bongonda, again in the 85th minute, initiated a counter-attack for Congo, but was caught by the defense. A warning for Côte d'Ivoire (85th min). Nothing more, or almost nothing.Jonathan Bamba, well launched (94th min), took the Congolese goalkeeper by the scruff of the neck, but saw his back-cross blocked by the defense. It was to be the last chance of the match. Côte d'Ivoire win against an out-of-sorts DRC.

At the end of the match, Côte d'Ivoire had 57% possession and 14 shots, including 2 on target. The DRC, on the other hand, had only 43% possession, 7 shots and 2 on target (including 0 in the second half).

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